Tuesday, 29 November 2011


(You can make all the pictures bigger by clicking on them)

Surprisingly, the four of us managed to meet at Rick & Lindsey’s in the Yorkshire Dales at the pre-arranged hour. Time was of the essence and so we all slumped into the settees in front of the woodburner in the cosy lounge, cups of tea in hand and chatted.

Mr & Mrs Grumpy, TGO legends, had come along to have lunch with Rick & Lindsey. Our departure for the great outdoors was delayed a little further as each of us are TGO Challengers and with something like seventy challenges between us, there was a lot of ground to cover.

The hand-picked team for this particular expedition comprised four bloggers with differing styles:

Martin Rye: Has a huge blog following and can invariably be found bounding along adventurous routes in Scotland and the the Lakes. There are only ever shots of the back of his head on his blog, so look away now if you are of a nervous disposition…

James Boulter: Newer to blogging but with an incredibly loyal and growing congregation who follow his exploits throughout the wilder parts of Wales, Scotland and its archipelagos. Sadly he was without Reuben, his faithful companion so I don’t know how he will manage to post to his blog as Reuben usually does all that.

Mad’n’Bad Andy Walker: The newest of the bloggers in the group, who mainly concerns himself with the TGO Challenge, having walked his first before history began.


And me.

Somehow I had been volunteered to come up with a plan for a weekend in North Yorkshire at the fag end of November, when daylight is a brief ‘hello’ before everything is plunged into stygian darkness for twenty hours or so. The weather forecast, unsurprisingly, was for wall to wall torrential downpours with a healthy dose of stormy buffeting. Ground conditions were a promising mix of knee deep gloop and greasy mud on a limestone pavement.

For four chaps who don’t bang on too much about gear it was interesting to note that we had all chosen to wear Paramo jackets  and we had all brought American shelters to sleep under in what was promising to be horrendous weather…

Within minutes of setting off, the promised monsoon arrived, on cue.

Martin & James getting a soaking

And then, quite miraculously, the weather broke into cheerfulness, party hats and fluffy kittens! Yes – the next picture shows that the horrid nasty stuff was chased away by some brightness! The ground steamed a bit under the blazing sunshine.


We made our way up Crummack Dale, a little gem of a dale between the honeypots of Clapham and Horton, wonderfully infrequently visited by the hordes cramming into the National Park at the weekends.


As we climbed out of the dale we came across huge areas of limestone pavement. Fortunately the path meanders delightfully along grassy trods with occasional natural staircases to gain height.


Lunch was taken after the little climb out of the dale, on sheep nibbled turf, sheltered by a high wall. Views over to Pen-y-Ghent delighted, but the show stoppers were the views back down into Crummack Dale: quite beautiful.



With the clock ticking we re-girded our loins (I will add that we only girded our own loins) and plugged on up the hill via Sulber Nick; the main drag up the side of Ingleborough from Horton. This was possibly a mistake: Thousands and thousands and even more thousands of walkers plug up this self-same section of path every month on the Three Peaks Walk and we are destroying the wonderful environment that we are coming to visit by making a huge erosion scar right up the side of this fantastic hillside. I shan’t come this way again.


With the weather forecast for 80mph gusts in the back of our minds we sloped off northwards to Borrins Moor to flip the shelters up on some mossy ground whilst there was still a bit of light to see by.



As I snoozed in my Wanda I was aware that the breeze was freshening, with the occasional blast of snow in the thrashing against her flanks…

I woke in the morning to a tale of woe: At around six in the morning, when it was still pitch black, one of our number had had a tent pole snap and it had torn through the sil-nylon of his tent. This was indeed Very Bad News. I stumbled over sleepily to Martin’s Trailstar, where to my surprise the team were assembled beneath its capacious canopy. In fact, the team was all packed and ready to go!

What was very noticeable was how incredibly stable the Trailstar was under very blustery conditions. James’ tent (A Scarp I) had also been very stable as he had used the cross-over poles which tensioned the fly like a drum. Of course he has the advantage of a sealed environment against the dreaded midge and two doors, should the wind change direction after he had pitched.

Wanda, a Stephenson’s Warmlite 2C, by comparison, was nowhere near as stable in the cross winds, although she did okay. Poor Wendy (a Stephenson’s Warmlite 2R) is going to need surgery – a new pole section and a repair to her skin. I think Andy is going to have a set of rear guys attached as well to stabilise the top of the rear arch, which is a standard feature on Wanda.

We decided to plod down to Horton to the cafe for cheering mugs of hot coffee and bacon sandwiches. The weather had taken a serious turn for the worse and so it was a disappointed band of bloggers who arrived at the cafe to find it closed until Boxing Day. There was nothing for it: We adjourned to the pub to have beers and bacon baguettes. Smile

By this time the weather had taken an even more serious turn for the very worserer! It looked like firemen were training their hoses on the windows of the pub. It was Very Horrid Indeed. The forecast for tonight was even worse than the night we had just had. We were a tent down and James wasn’t feeling too chipper either. So, we did the sensible thing and called it a day. Well, not quite, as we still had to get back to Austwick five or six miles away back over the hill.

LIMESTONE PAVEMENT IN CRAP WEATHERUnsurprisingly, there were not many pictures taken during this leg of the trip as it was hosing it down!

We made it back to Rick & Lindsey’s who very kindly fed us all tea & Lyndsey’s scrumptious sponge cake with raspberry filling. Martin had been soaked right down to his shreddies as he hadn’t re-proofed his jacket for a while. So, we all dried out and then Andy, Martin & James headed back home, leaving me in front of the woodburner, being royally entertained by Rick, planning tomorrow’s adventure.


  1. I am glad I read that Al.
    I was wondering where I had been.
    Wendy is off to hospital later this week, and Stephenson are going to send her a new limb, once I figure out how to pay them.
    Then we'll show those damned northern winds what for!!!

    Glad we are not up ther now, the forecast for the next 24 hours looks even worse than the weekend.

  2. What Grim weather!

    It was very similar in the Lakes, fortunately I was safely ensconced in the Gordon Walker Chalet at Stair, so managed to avoid any pole malfunctions.

  3. I'm not surprised to hear you had a tough time of it.

    I was up in the YDNP over the weekend myself. Saturday afternoon and evening it rained relentlessly, and Sunday was drier but the winds were serious - I got blown over on Pen-Y-Ghent!

    Glad everyone got back safe, if a little damp!

  4. Looks like good training for next year's Challenge!

  5. All part of life's rich tapestry!

    Glad to hear the Scarp is bomber.

  6. Looks like a great weekend.Had it not rained, you'd only have felt cheated!

  7. Nice one Alan, and a good plan to stay over with friends. I was in the Cairngorms, where the mountain hares seemed to struggle to stay on terra firma, but the Fife Arms remained steady until late in the evenings.

  8. Andy, Geoff, Jules, Ken, Robin, Steve & Martin: Thanks for the comments. The Yorkshire Dales, once away from the Three Peaks main drags, are a fabulous place to walk. Camping at this time of year is okay, but the nights in the tent are quite long. I think camping in a pub back garden might be favourite...

    The star of the weekend was certainly Crummack Dale - a real beauty.

  9. You did right to bale out when you did, the following night was absolutely horrendous and I couldn't help thinking about you stuck up there in the holocaust (see my blog).
    Ah well, as someone already said, it was all good training for the Chally - if you get in!.

  10. Now I know where we went I can think about writing my side of the tale up. It was a great time Alan. Lets do it all again in the spring?

    Take care now.

  11. Personally, I think the 'Three Peaks main drags' make for a really good walk, once in a while...

  12. Whilst not wishing to discourage anybody from trying the Three Peaks Challenge (3PC) please bear in mind that recent research has shown that the sponsored walks season for the 3PC has shown that it has now spread from May to early October with up to 1500 trying to do it on a Saturday. Also please support the efforts of the NP and volunteers (I am one) by supporting the Friends of the Three Peaks -

  13. Sounds almost a good trip :-)

    Rick was one of the first people I met when walking on the Challenge. I haven't seen him since. Perhaps I put him off!

  14. A rather amusing read, Mr. Sloman - well done!

  15. Old Gregorlach: Indeed Sir. We were fortunate in having Rick & Lindsey's wonderful pad to fall back on. Saturday night really was horrendous, but I was safely tucked up in a warm bed with a few glasses of a robust red on the tummy.

  16. Martin: I really enjoyed it. Thanks for your company and for dragging Mad'n'Bad Andy up as well.
    I am working on another route for the Spring that will avoid the honey pots of Ingleborough P-y-G and Whernside and concentrating on the limestone pavements.
    Don't panic though: There will be the occasional pub.

  17. MartinB: There's no denying that the three peaks route is a stunner, but as Rick says, in the comment below yours, this level of traffic is incredibly difficult to sustain without slabbing the entire route. The section between Ingleborough and Whernside, for instance, is on one hell of a mess.
    I believe we should be promoting lesser visited hills and dales in the YDNP, to try and alleviate the dreadful hammering the route takes.

  18. Rick: Well said, Sir. And a huge thank-you to you and Mrs S. for looking after me and the boys so well. Shiny Stars!

  19. Andy: Young Mr Smith has had various incredibly painful sounding ops on his feet that have precluded his entry into the Challenge.
    However, this has not stopped him from repairing paths in the Dales and volunteering to help with the National Park in various guises.

    I keep trying to encourage them both to come back to the Challenge...

  20. Ooooh! A lesser spotted Hendrik! Hello Sir and welcome to the blog. There will be more on the trip in the next post.

  21. I fully appreciate Rick's comments, Alan. I gave up doing the Lyke Wake Walk many years ago because of the erosion, and that was in the days before sponsored challenges. There are however days on which the light feet of a small party really don't damage the 3P landscape, as on my last visit with Heather T-S and others. The route between Whernside and Ingleborough for example was perfectly dry. I doubt the same could have been said of a visit to Buckden Pike on the same day!

    Have fun planning your next route.

  22. Well - I'm glad you all survived - it was so windy here I couldn't close the van door even with my whole body weight (which is quite considerable) leaning on the door! Wild!

  23. It was a tad damp and breezy around here, with the odd snowflake for good measure. Glad you survived it!

  24. Martinn B: That was a splendid report of your three peaks walk. (I missed it originally as that was when I was moving house, so it's nice to catch up on it.)

    The problems with the erosion of the paths are obviously exacerbated by poor weather and wet subsoils, so you were indeed fortunate to find it firm and on such a lovely day.

    The £30k grant will be drop in the ocean...

  25. Hi Laura: I am now struggling to catch up with all the blogs and I see that you are on the massive list of blogs yet to be read!
    The weather is a bit shitty all over the place at the moment. We still haven't had a frost yet here though!

  26. Louise: Survived it, I did! I'm a 2011 Challenger, so "well 'ard!" Hurricanes? Ha!

  27. looked nice, I would've worn shorts, for sure.

  28. An excellent adventure Alan. All that weather around certainly produced some dramatic photos. It's a shame that this trip got curtailed (though at least everyone survived the night) but I look forward to the next instalment.

  29. An epic tale of four men pitting their skills and wits against the Yorkshire demons - and losing.

    Enjoyed that Alan, sometimes the bad days can give you a kind of perverse, laugh about it afterwards kind of reward. Mind you I'm a fine one to talk. I went out on grey and damp day in the Brecons last week and was in major grump all day :(

  30. See you was right a few months ago, "It's grim up north." actually "it's reet grim up north."
    Having said that sunday on Ingleborough was rather splendid, if a little "Breezy!"

  31. A cracking write up of a great trip Alan. I enjoyed the weekend and it would be good to repeat in the future when the weather is kinder and the nights not so bloody long.

    I like the way that you managed to arrange us in height order in the first photo...........

  32. Owdbum: Shorts & string vest? Class.

    Nick: The next instalment includes a pub. *shock!*

    Andy: "pitting their skills & wits" I am not sure that there were many skills available amongst this band of brothers and as for wits....

    Al: oooh! I could have almost bumped into you on Sunday as I was heading towards Jinglebells myself until the lure of the pub ensnared me...

    James: That Martin *is* a short-arse, isn't he? And Andy actually auditioned for Ricky Gervais's latest show on the telly. :-)

  33. Sheila and I were thinking of you all when we were getting a bit blown about ourselves.
    However, the close proximity of friends was a good choice on your part.
    The next night was horrendous here so i wouldn't have volunteered to camp out in it unless i had to.

  34. Alan, you've got to be one of the funniest bloggers I've ever come across. Loved it!!

    Made me laugh, smile and empathise with you guys. Shame (he says) I couldn't make it.

    A thoroughly enjoyable read :) And you sound like a man after my own heart with regards to pubs and ale ;) lol

  35. AlanR: You are right of course! It's always wise to choose one's friends to their close proximity to the hills! In which case R&L are my bestest best friends imaginable! Oooh then there's young Deppity Dawg and then Janet & John as well...and who can forget HMP3 as well?

    I suppose I am gifted with wonderful friends poised like coiled springs next to or amongst Britain's finest hills

  36. Mr bnd (Big'n'Daft'?): Ales fuel a walker with all the vitamins, calories and fluid a body can want or decently need.
    Why else would you want to go out into pouring rain with a bunch of smelly walkers if not for the reward of a decent pint or three?

  37. Well.
    The pole is on it's way from the US of A courtesy Stephenson.
    And Wendy is on her way to Sean to be repaired and have the extra Guys.
    So Al, when's the next trip?
    She'll be right! soon. :)

  38. I think we need to drag Wee Willy Wilky out for an airing. I shall be talking to him shortly. It would be nice to have a trip when the daylight hours are a trifle longer - end of February, say?

  39. It's good to see the dedication of four bloggers keen to test their gear to the limits so that the rest of us can make well informed choices about which shelters, hard-shells*, boots, stoves etc to buy for those days when the forecast is for hurricane force winds and torrential rain, and we sit inside, drink another cup of tea and admire our shelters, hard-shells* etc
    (*I almost said coats and tents there and revealed my total lack of knowledge. Phew!)
    Keep up the hard-work chaps!
    (I always said this 'care in the community' lark was a winner.)

  40. Mark: It's good to know that my efforts are appreciated by a discerning tea-drinker.

    I am not sure what you mean when using the term "boots" though. I believed we were all wearing 'performance footwear'...

  41. The weather there seems to be very similar to ours. We have also had some very high winds over here.

  42. Damn! Betrayed by my own ignorance again...

  43. Hi Maria. If it's good enough for England it's good enough for the world! We are pleased to share our buffeting winds with our Baltic brethren!

  44. Mark: A day off, Sir???
    I think I should prescribe a short break somewhere warm.... How about a trip to a modern-day gear-shop, Sorry! "Emporium".
    The boys and girls therein have all the modern jargon tripping from their tongues like a copy of Trail.

  45. Alan, good write up. I see you have a rare front facing shot of Mr Rye. I was looking to walk on Sunday, but I was harnessed to the house decorating upstairs. Looking at your report, maybe I made the right decision :)

  46. Mark'sWB: My lawyers have been in touch with his lawyers and we have agreed to issue a prepared statement to the effect that the image purporting to resemble Martin Rye esquire is in fact a wholly fabricated image of a known escaped felon.

    It does not represent any likeness of the reclusive blogger as he is supposed to be far more "Andsome Than That, Guv"

  47. Alan, looking at the photo again - it looks like he has shrunk or is standing in a hole as I thought he was much taller than that.

  48. Mark'sWB: In fact, what you are witnessing here is a Little Known Fact:
    The order in which they are standing is the order of Challenges completed. Andy (on the far right) has completed the most TGO Challenges. Martin has completed the slightly fewer (middle) and James the least number of Challenges.
    The theory is: The more Challenges completed the shorter the resulting leg length. The legs simply get worn away with distance travelled.

    I am having to stand on a nearby style in order to have the camera at the level where the photography was possible.

  49. Ha Ha Alan, very good. On that basis I would tower above you all as I have never completed the TGO :) Hey that would be good as I am 5ft 8" and normally I don't tower over many people !!

  50. Mark'sWB: Sounds like it's time to consider an entry into the Challenge? "Tallness" must be abolished and this can only be achieved by wearing those legs right down.


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